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Between State Law and Religious Law: Islamic Family Law in Turkey


Temel, Ahmet (2020). Between State Law and Religious Law: Islamic Family Law in Turkey. Electronic Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law (EJIMEL), 8(1):68-76.

Abstract

This paper considers the history of Islamic family law and its current applications in Turkey. As the heir of the last Muslim empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Republic of Turkey chose an abrupt revolution in its legal system; in 1926, it cut all ties to Islamic law, which was the main law of the land during the Ottoman Empire. Secularization of the law was not uncommon among modern nation states including those, which had Muslim majority populations. However, most of these Muslim majority states allowed Islamic law to govern the private law area, especially family laws. By contrast, the young Republic of Turkey did not allow this to happen and adopted the Swiss civil code including family law with limited revisions. Despite this rushed revolution, practices emanating from Islamic family legal norms did not cease among the people and continued until now. This created a dichotomy in the lives of people between applying Islamic family law and abiding by the secular civil code, which has caused several multidimensional legal problems in the areas of marriage and divorce, as well as their legal consequences in the areas of financial support and child custody. For the first time in republican history, in 2017, the government authorized muftīs to solemnize marriages. This is seen as the only direct authority given to muftīs in a legal matter, which indirectly opens a door for applying Islamic family law in modern legal life in Turkey. In addition, family mediation will soon have some presence in the legal system. There is no direct reference, however, to Islamic family law in government official documents congruent with these recent developments. There also is significant potential for incorporating the principles of family mediation and arbitration (taḥkīm) based on Islamic legal principles. This paper first gives a brief history of Islamic family law in Turkey as well as its effect on the civil codes and applications and then evaluates these recent changes. These are preceded by a brief note on the constitutional and legal frameworks currently in force in Turkey.

Abstract

This paper considers the history of Islamic family law and its current applications in Turkey. As the heir of the last Muslim empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Republic of Turkey chose an abrupt revolution in its legal system; in 1926, it cut all ties to Islamic law, which was the main law of the land during the Ottoman Empire. Secularization of the law was not uncommon among modern nation states including those, which had Muslim majority populations. However, most of these Muslim majority states allowed Islamic law to govern the private law area, especially family laws. By contrast, the young Republic of Turkey did not allow this to happen and adopted the Swiss civil code including family law with limited revisions. Despite this rushed revolution, practices emanating from Islamic family legal norms did not cease among the people and continued until now. This created a dichotomy in the lives of people between applying Islamic family law and abiding by the secular civil code, which has caused several multidimensional legal problems in the areas of marriage and divorce, as well as their legal consequences in the areas of financial support and child custody. For the first time in republican history, in 2017, the government authorized muftīs to solemnize marriages. This is seen as the only direct authority given to muftīs in a legal matter, which indirectly opens a door for applying Islamic family law in modern legal life in Turkey. In addition, family mediation will soon have some presence in the legal system. There is no direct reference, however, to Islamic family law in government official documents congruent with these recent developments. There also is significant potential for incorporating the principles of family mediation and arbitration (taḥkīm) based on Islamic legal principles. This paper first gives a brief history of Islamic family law in Turkey as well as its effect on the civil codes and applications and then evaluates these recent changes. These are preceded by a brief note on the constitutional and legal frameworks currently in force in Turkey.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:Journals > Electronic Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law (EJIMEL) > Archive > 8/2020 > Articles
Dewey Decimal Classification:340 Law
Language:English
Date:2020
Deposited On:13 May 2020 16:18
Last Modified:27 Oct 2021 12:08
Publisher:Center for Islamic and Middle Eastern Legal Studies (CIMELS), University of Zurich
ISSN:1664-5707
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Official URL:https://www.ejimel.uzh.ch
Related URLs:https://www.zora.uzh.ch/id/eprint/186936/
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)